Drop Everything You're Doing & Start Home Roasting
Home roasting is all the rage right now. There are tons of different methods for home roasting, and even more options when actually choosing Green Coffee beans. Here's what I learned over the past couple years, enjoy and good luck.
Choose a Method
If you want to get real primitive you can roast coffee over a fire, but there are a few safer and consistent methods available to you. I started out with an air popcorn popper, which I think I got at Walmart for less than $20. If you're serious you can invest in a roaster actually intended for Coffee, i liked the SR 500, which you can find online from a bunch of distributors. Note that an air control knob is a pretty essential feature.
Get Dem Beans, Yo
I strongly recommend Sweet Maria's Coffee, if you're lucky enough to live near Oakland CA you can even pick up the beans from their warehouse & avoid shipping. You can also get the beans from a bunch of online retailers, even Amazon, but Sweet Maria's gives you a ton of tasting & origin info.
Setting Up Your Space
Once you start roasting a batch it's important not to leave your roaster, so make sure you gather these things in advance.
- Oven Mit: Even the SR 500 gets HOT after a couple roasts, so touching the top air vent & chamber is nearly impossible if you want to keep your fingers. I suggest using two mits in case you fumble.
- Large Bowl & Canister: I always throw my roasted beans in a bowl after roasting to check them out. Are they evenly roasted? Any burnt beans to pick out? After you inspect, move the roasted beans to a canister or bag. Coffee bags with valves are the best, but any jar will do too.
- Fan: As you may have heard, roasting coffee gives off some serious gasses. Although it is rather nice smelling it is awful for your lungs. Do you body a favor and get a fan to keep the fresh air moving.
- Scoop: To transfer the green coffee beans to the roasting chamber.
- PBR: It enhances your senses.
Roast lengths vary by method and beans, so I honestly just 'eye' it. Add the Green Coffee to your roaster chamber, kick on your machine and watch the magic happen. The beans will turn from their original dull green color into a bright green, then hazy yellow. From there they will begin to orange, and then brown. Once you hear a consistent Pop! Pop! Pop! you are at 'First Crack', which is where many specialty roasters pull the plug. If you like darker roasts continue until you hear a second round of Pop!s, any longer after that you will scorch your little beans.
I've had my fair share of failures. I tried roasting over the winter a few times in my parent's Chicago garage, it just didn't work well. I closed the garage door to keep in heat but eventually got smoked out by those scary coffee gasses, and my roasts never reached their full caramelized potential because of the ambient temperature.
I've also almost started my parents basement on fire, but I won't go into too much detail because I bet my mom will read this blog post :D
All in all - Roasting is crazy fun and rewarding. I bet if you do one roast you'll be hooked just like me. Feel free to comment or email with any questions, I'd love to help you through your Coffee adventure!